In 2014 1% of all Americans identified themselves as being vegan and now in 2018, we are all the way up to (drumroll) 6%! Guys, this is HUGE. But guess what, the other 94% is made up partially by those who view veganism in a negative way. Often times, many people perceive a vegan diet to be nothing but lettuce with a side of lettuce, and it is time to redefine this ASAP. 

Michael Strahl and Pat Charity, co-owners of Sweet Soul Bakery, are on a mission to reinvent the way society views veganism, one baked good at a time. Their mission is totally sweet and inclusive of everyone, not just vegans. That's the cool thing about Sweet Soul; it's not a "people who eat vegetables thing," it's a "people who love dessert thing." In one of the places who sell his baked goods, they didn't even feel the need to label it as being vegan; the food was naturally so appealing to anyone in the store. 

The Logo/Meaning

Let's talk logo, because I know I'm not the only one who finds it to be extremely interesting. Ganesh, the Hindu God of "success, wealth, and new beginnings" is the symbol for many businesses. Ganesh is said to be "the remover of obstacles" and "patron saint of small businesses." I had seen Ganesh while in yoga many times, but I was never aware of the name or any of the meaning behind it until Michael and Pat had enlightened me and I did some further research. I found it so refreshing to hear that Sweet Soul's logo isn't solely a visual icon and does revolve around true value and meaning. On a side note though, Sweet Soul's depiction of Ganesh is so vibrant and representative of their uniqueness as a company, which I do really enjoy.

The Menu Run Down

Sweet Soul Bakery frequently utilizes the hashtag #causeeverybitecounts and YES, it really does with their food! The menu includes a variety of items including Blondies, Breakfast Bars, Brownies, Chocolate Chip such as Cookies, Salted Caramels, and The Raw Cookie (Rawkie). Then comes the mini cheesecakes, which clearly require a list for themselves: Chocolate Pudding, Cinnamon Maple Walnut, Coffee, Key Lime Pie, Mocha, Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl, Pecan Pie, Pineapple, Salted Caramel, Strawberry, and Vanilla with Brownie Crust. Sweet Soul specifically prides themselves in the fact that they don't simply use the same base for each mini cheesecake and then change the topping, but really customize each individual cheesecake. There's no way your mouth isn't watering right now. 

The best seller for Sweet Soul is their Breakfast Bars which are composed of dates, gluten-free oats, chocolate chips, espresso, coconut sugar, coconut oil, baking soda, cinnamon, and Himalayan pink salt. One of the company's personal favorites is the Blondie which is made up of chickpeas, tahini, agave, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, and Himalayan pink salt. 

The Ingredients

Everything Sweet Soul makes is "whole food, plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, soy free, dairy-free, and egg-free." So at this point, you might be asking yourself, then what the f*ck am I eating? Some common "ingredients groups" I noticed are as follows, but the rest of the ingredients can be found on their website under each menu item:

Natural sweeteners - Agave, dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup

"Thickeners/Bases" - Tahini, gluten-free oats, chickpeas, avocado, baking powder, black beans, dates

Nuts/Seeds - Walnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, pecans, peanuts

"Flavorings/Additions" - Enjoy Life™ chocolate chips, almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract, cacao powder, espresso, Himalayan pink salt

The Places To Purchase

Sweet Soul baked goods are available mostly on Long Island, NY right now. These places include, but are not limited to Batata CaféCornucopia Health FoodsPlant WisePort Jefferson Village Center Farmer's Market (May-November 2018), Vegan Living Program 2018 (June 2 and June 9, 2018), and Long Island Vegan Extravaganza (July 21, 2018).

The Future Goals

Rebecca Stillman

Sweet Soul Bakery has created such a nice basis for themselves to grow upon. It's easy to do so when you have such a genuinely down to earth product, that so many people enjoy. With this growth, Pat and Michael hope to acquire their own commercial kitchen in the near future and spread wider throughout wholesale. On a long-term scale, they hope to expand past desserts and make other foods super delicious and vegan-friendly as well! Sweet Soul hopes to become regular name brand "go-to" for everyone alike to enjoy. 

In the end, Sweet Soul Bakery just wants to spread veganism awareness to everyone, not solely vegans. Michael expressed “Eating this way is transformative,” and I could not agree more. It is so imperative that people begin to acknowledge what they're eating and the effects it has on their bodies and the environment.